A recent post mortem study at a Fallen Stock Collection Centre (FSCC) has shown that sheep producers are still losing too many lambs to pasteurellosis and clostridial diseases like pulpy kidney.

For example, October 2015 saw an increase in diagnoses of pasteurellosis in unprotected lambs caused by Mannheimia haemolytica or Bibersteinia trehalosi. The project also recorded a large early spring peak of pulpy kidney disease in lambs. In almost all cases these were young lambs (two to eight weeks old) and neither the dams nor the lambs had been vaccinated.

Remember that pasteurellosis and clostridial disease vaccines in sheep work very well and are cost-effective, which means that most of these losses could have been prevented. Indeed, protecting your next crop of lambs starts well before they are born – by ensuring boosters are given pre-lambing – so it’s a good idea to start thinking about future disease protection after ewes have been put to the tup.

As far as autumn ewe replacements are concerned, you should always assume the worst-case scenario regarding their history and vaccination status. Treat them as though they have not received anything then they won’t be missed. They can be treated similarly to breeding ewes, with a full primary course of two injections of 2mls of HEPTAVAC® P-PLUS 4-6 weeks apart when they come into the flock, followed by a booster 4-6 weeks before each lambing, along with the older ewes.

Remember that vaccinating the ewe 4-6 weeks before lambing not only boosts her own immunity, it also increases the concentration of protective antibodies in the ewe’s colostrum and these pass to the newborn lamb when it suckles. This helps give young lambs the protection they need against clostridial diseases and pasteurellosis until they can be vaccinated themselves.

Phone Sally Cornforth R-SQP WE Jameson & Son Tel 01765 689666 for more advice.

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